A question of Symmetry?

After my visit to Cardiff Arms Park a few weeks ago I wrote of the strange way part of it and the adjacent Millennium Stadium are conjoined at the hip – or at least the South Stand. When the Millennium Stadium  was constructed at the end of the 1990’s the W.R.U. and Cardiff Athletic Club were barely on speaking terms, and the club refused permission for its South Stand to be demolished.

Now it transpires that talks are on-going between the WRU and Cardiff Athletic Club, and the former have offered to build Cardiff a new stand.The deal depends on Cardiff Athletic Club, which is a federation of sports, agreeing not just a price but how much money should go to its tenants, Cardiff Blues.

However time is running out for the work to be completed by the start of the 2015 World Cup,part of which will be staged in Cardiff.

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A day out at the Arms Park

Cardiff Arms Park is one of the most iconic grounds in world rugby, but it has taken me until now to get there, for the Cardiff/Toulon Heineken Cup game.

Cardiff Arms Park (named after a hotel which once stood on the site) built its first stand in 1881. The architect was Archibald Leitch no less, famous for designing Glasgow Rangers’ Ibrox Stadium, and Fulham’s Craven Cottage, among others.In those early days there was even a cricket ground to the north as well as a rugby stadium to the south. by 1969 the cricket ground had been demolished to make way for the present day Arms Park to the north and a second rugby stadium to the south. This was the National Stadium, and used by the Welsh national team  until it too fell under the wrecking ball in 1997, to be replaced by the Millennium Stadium.

The latter dominates its much smaller cousin, but the two are conjoined as if by an umbilical cord. For the South Stand of the Arms Park forms a complete unit with the North Stand of the Millennium Stadium. My seat was in this South Stand , which you enter underneath the North Stand of the Millennium – all that prevents you from entering the latter are heavy barred gates and some wary stewards.

Apparently this section is known locally as “Glanmor’s Gap”, after a former W.R..U. President. The story has it that the W.R.U. were unable to secure enough funding to include the North Stand in the Millennium Stadium. The latter was therefore built with the old reinforced concrete structure of the National Stadium’s North Stand, with the rest of the new steel Millennium Stadium structure built around it.

So it may not have been due to the most satisfactory of reasons , but I believe that somehow what has emerged does work for an unashamed ground enthusiast such as me.